Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Book Review: Fireflies by Lacey Reah


Book review by Sarah Hayes

Linda had everything going for her: a loving boyfriend and a life that seemed perfect. That is, until the night a beautiful woman in the park seduces Linda and what would have been a sensual fling turns into a life shattering event as Linda is turned into a nymphomite. Reborn into something not human, Linda is forced to abandon her old life in order to live as a nymphomite, feeding off the energies of female humans’ blood during orgasm. As Linda masters her skills at literally sucking the pleasure from her targets, she becomes more aware of the fact that she will never be part of normal human society again.

To the newly nymphed Linda, every woman is a potential meal, another source of energy for survival – until she meets Jesse. Jesse is clever and funny and wants to create a portrait of Linda for her private collection. What was supposed to be a typical eat-and-run turns into something more when Linda decides to turn Jesse into a nymphomite just like her. But Jesse’s turning comes with a dark price; stripped of her humanity, Jesse becomes the creature Linda most fears to become and abandons her maker in her rage of becoming a nymphomite. Linda must track down Jesse in the city while also keeping herself alive, before someone else suffers the same fate as them.

Lacey Reah’s novella Fireflies is an erotic story of horror and humanity that puts a rather sexy yet terrifying spin on what it means to be human. Reah presents us with an interesting take on the basic vampire, only the blood they suck must be during orgasm or else it does not work. Instead of romanticizing Linda’s life as something strange and wonderful, the story quickly shows the reality of living solely off the blood of the aroused, carefully straddling the realms of horror and drama without becoming too gruesome. Fans of the unconventional bisexual vampire will delight in Reah’s debut into fiction.

Book Review: Blunderland by Elizabeth O’Kane


Book review by Sarah Hayes

Fin Barrett is looking for a fresh start in a new town, away from her troubled past. But when she and her new pet puppy Zipper walk through a mysterious marble arch in a sculpture garden, what she finds on the other side is another world. It is a world where cars can move at the speed of light, sparkly goo can twist the laws of physics, and stories are written down not on paper but on fabric. This is Blunder and Fin has been here before.

Not everything about the strange new world of Blunder is innocent. The Creeps are coming out of the woodworks like never before to raise havoc and attack people at random for the fun of it. Plus, while Fin may not remember her previous trip to Blunder, some of its citizens do – and not everyone is pleased to see her come back. To piece together the puzzle of her place in Blunder, Fin will have to travel to many odd places and take a look into the past to save the future of a place she barely remembers.

Blunderland is a bizzare and dizzying fall through the proverbial rabbit hole into a world that breaks all the rules simply by existing. The fact that Fin has been in Blunder before and does not remember being there is a fascinating twist on what could have easily fallen into typical wonderland territory. Some scenes are hampered by more telling than showing what is going on in the scene, but this is compensated by O’Kane’s vivid descriptions of the wild and wonderful curiosities that inhabit Blunder. She has created an interesting cast of characters in a topsy-turvy world that will pleasantly surprise fantasy and supernatural fans alike.

Book Review: Blood Orchard by S.D. Hintz

Blood Orchard  

Book review by Sarah Hayes

The headlines read of six-month old triplets kidnapped, bloodied. The small town where they live is under a literal lockdown, and the sheriff is hell bent on finding the babies’ kidnappers, merrily abusing his powers as he goes. Having recently moved into town, Coren Raines finds himself in a hellish world of panic rooms and dead girls springing out of a well smelling of oranges. The deeper he falls down the bloody rabbit hole, the more Raines learns that this town is brimming with secrets better left buried.

In 1993, a terrible team of blondes bullied the town, beating on the young and the old alike. No one ever dared touch them, as they were the sheriff’s children. They called them the Blondies, and their favorite target was one Francine Heller. When the opportunity for a bit of revenge falls into Francine’s lap, she falls into some bad company in order to make the Blondies feel the same pain she has. But vengeance doesn’t sleep and the town will soon smell of blood and oranges once again.

Blood Orchard is a visceral mess of carnage and cusses and little else. I can handle gore and violence done right; this is gore and violence done wrong. All of the horror elements fall flat due to Hintz’s continual abuse of the “show, don’t tell” rule. None of the characters involved have any redeeming factors to them. There’s a difference between having a cast of gritty flawed characters and having a cast of utterly hateable characters, and Blood Orchard seems to gleefully drop itself into the later category. I’d be more forgiving of Blood Orchard if it had a decent story or even decent writing, but no, the story is lackluster and the writing lazy. But give Hintz credit: it’s a story you’d be hard-pressed to pull away from before the book’s end. It pulls you in and demands that you finish it, like it or not, and that is a compliment that is hard to earn.

Book Review: Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist

                                      Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist

                                       Book Review by A.R. Braun                    

In Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist, Gus Gerring has a paint-huffing habit. He’s finds he’s been at the fumes for too many years when an entity Gus calls “Satan” shows up in a Hawaiian shirt. Soon, he’s revealing things Gus doesn’t want to know.

Gus sees strangers’ eyes turn black. Then his loved ones have the same black eyes. It gets worse when he sees the insidious secrets inside people’s minds and too much to take when he sees the hidden evil in his own girlfriend and family. With his sanity at stake, Gus wonders if this is a gift meant to enhance his life like “Satan” says or a curse meant to destroy him. The way his life’s spiraling out of control, he’ll soon find out. 

Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist is a scathing horror novel that caught my attention from the beginning and held me captive throughout the whole book, making me fear I’d get his power. The story is wonderfully woven through realistic events in Midwestern Illinois that could happen to anyone. I recommend this book without a second’s hesitation. If Huffer doesn’t freak you out, you haven’t got a pulse.

Book Review: Shadow of the Antlered Bird by David Sklar

Shadow of the Antlered Bird  

Book review by Sarah Hayes

College student April doesn’t know much about Tam – but when his life is in danger from an invisible enemy, April is drawn into his world and joins him on a road trip across the state of California to dodge death from a shadow. Tam doesn’t know anything about April, but ends up relying on her as a means of escape from the creature that wants to destroy and become him. If Tam thinks he’s finally escaped his mother’s grasp, he’ll soon find out how wrong he is.

The world of Shadow of the Antlered Bird is one of magic hidden beneath the veneer of technology. It is also a story of discovery for not only Tam and April but also for readers discovering how science and spells can seamlessly synthesize in the hands of a talented storyteller.

David Sklar’s premiere work, Shadow of the Antlered Bird, should make readers excited for his next writing projects. His writing is tightly contained yet manages to weave in great amounts of detail and imagery in a modest amount of pages. The dialogue is fresh and rolls naturally from the characters’ mouths even as the situation becomes more and more bizarre. It is a beautifully put together book of fantasy and drama told by a very human cast of characters that will enthrall every reader completely.

Book Review: She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Horror edited by Tim W. Lieder

She Nailed a Stake Through His Head   She Nailed A Stake Through His Head
Book review by Sarah Hayes

The true terror of the Bible comes to life through its unwitting characters, some knowing pieces of a greater game and some ignorant pawns in His divine machinations. Either walking in the dunes of the Middle East or swimming a stormy ocean, they are all looking for answers and trying to live normal lives. They are Ruth and Naomi, who both share the blessing and the curse of a double-edged devotion to one another. Delilah, who betrays Samson for something different than money and pays the price for it. Holofernes, whose wife beheads him every night only to grow it back much to her disgust.

She Nailed A Stake Through His Head is a collection of stories that take a darker look at the parables of the New and Old Testaments, without losing the markings that make them so Biblical, so affecting and yet so startling. Those who think the Bible is nothing but life lessons and comforting anecdotes will find themselves unsettled in a satisfying way by its frankness and explicit details. There is sex and violence and savagery of body and mind along with some very supernatural happenings, including vampires of the most grisly sort.

There is nothing tame about the stories in She Nailed A Stake Through His Head; everything from the visual imagery to the storytelling is brutal and unrestrained in its mission to show the unsung side of some of the well-known tales of the Good Book. The language is gorgeously detailed and unrelenting and it is refreshing to read a collection of stories by multiple authors that carries a consistently high level of quality. Readers who are willing to set aside their preset notions about the characters birthed in the Bible will find themselves surprised by the richness and honesty of those lives retold in She Nailed A Stake Through His Head.

Book Review: She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror (edited by Tim Lieder)

She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror (edited by Tim Lieder)

Book Review by A. R. Braun

Do you love twisted Bible tales? Then you’ll relish She Nailed a Stake Through His Head, a riveting book of short stories released by Dybbuk Press that warp the classic scriptural tales.

Not that it’s done with any disrespect, but quite the contrary. A fresh spin is put on the Old Testament, making it scream with new excitement one didn’t think possible. There’s enough satire and human disgust with the hardness of God and the world He’s created to satisfy even the most morbid atheist. Yet there’s a thread of truth that allows the pieces in the volume to rise above the typical collection of yarns.

While I found some of the stories superfluous with beatific description, enough visceral plot strength lurked in certain chapters of the book to spike my interest. Gerri Leen’s “Whither Thou Goest” gives another reason for the familial atrocity that struck Naomi, her own clutching companion now dangerous instead of loyal. My favorite was Daniel Kaysen’s “Babylon’s Burning,” the sinister reality behind what seems like a macabre show genuinely terrifying as the words writhe into your brain like blow. “Swallowed” by Stephen M. Wilson casts a Lovecraftian shadow on the story of Jonah.

The one hundred and forty-three pages of sardonic wit mixed with morbid description in She Nailed a Stake Through His Head are full of fresh ideas that shouldn’t be ignored.

Book Review: Tapestry of Tales: Classic Fairy Tales Retold by Sarah Deckard

Tapestry of Tales   Tapestry of Tales

Book review by Sarah Hayes

A young woman cloaked in red visiting her grandmother is warned to beware of wolves. A prince and his aide venture through the countryside to free a sleeping princess from a castle surrounded by thorns. For the love of a human man, a mermaid sacrifices her tail and her voice. At night, twelve princesses dance so much and so long that their shoes fall apart on their feet. These may sound like the typical characters of your everyday fairy tale – but they are not. In fact, with a little twist of the words on the page, the heroes and heroines of stories long past turn into something brand new but just as enthralling.

As Tapestry of Tales shows, even the oldest of stories can be looked at in a new way. Sometimes, when you change the perspective of the story, the heroine doesn’t seem so fair or the hero so noble and sometimes the villain comes out looking rosier than her detractors. Like in real life, every story has two sides and more than one way to tell it. When you see the witch holding the beautiful princess captive isn’t evil at heart and the woodcutter lending a hand to the little lost girl in the woods isn’t innocent – well, it makes you wonder what other fairy tales hide another facet to them.

With this book, Sarah Deckard has put some creative and decidedly dark spins on classic fairy tales – from Sleeping Beauty to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Her writing style is lavishly descriptive and thick with vivid imagery that seems apropos for her rehashed fables, which have all taken on a somber (if not outright sinister) accent. Some stories have an effective punch, while others get lost in their own detailed prose and lack impact. Having said that, the stories with the most striking affect are the ones that linger in the mind long after that particular tale is done; I found the retakes on Little Red Riding Hood (Beware of Wolves) and Sleeping Beauty (The Prince and the Thorns) the most effective of the collection. Deckard has shown, as illustrated in the final tale of this volume, that new things can spring up out of things old and forgotten – and that out of the fairy tales of olden times, new ones can still be dreamt of and told to generations to come.

Book Review: Paradigms of Suffering: Bloody Seconds by Greg Dixon

Paradigms of Suffering: Bloody Seconds

Book Review by Sean Chambers

Paradigms of Suffering: Bloody Seconds is a collection of short stories created by Greg Dixon that is definitely not for the squeamish. Dixon seems to take delight in using a pallet of violent language to paint his morbid tales.

Bloody Seconds contains four original stories and one unique vision of Ed Gein’s life. The characters presented in the stories very quickly experience all the raw and unbridled violence Dixon’s mind is capable of creating. An unfaithful wife, a prison inmate, a group of drunken buddies—no one is safe from the macabre that fills each and every story.

In the end, Bloody Seconds is reminiscent of the exploitation films of the sixties and seventies. The stories use ultraviolence and taboo subject matter in place of plot and character development. This double-edged sword makes the stories fun but forgettable. At its short length of only one hundred and fifty pages, though, it’s worth checking out.

Book Review: Tapestry of Tales: Classic Fairy Tales Retold by Sarah Deckard

Tapestry of Tales: Classic Fairy Tales Retold
Book Review by Amber Stults

Tapestry of Tales: Classic Fairy Tales Retold by Sarah Deckard is not for children unless you want to scare them into staying awake. The tone of her stories perfectly mimics the cheery tales of old but very few have “happily ever after” endings.

More than one character wonders if the fairy tales they’ve heard are told from the wrong point of view or have incorrect details. They find out firsthand if the tales were correct or not. For instance, Sleeping Beauty’s tale is retold from the prince’s point of view. He’s a wanderer and uses his lover to find out more information about the fortress protected by magical thorns to prevent a prince from wakening the princess inside.

Other tales are alternate versions. Snow White goes to live with a family of odd Dwarves with names like Trippy, Sappy and Freaky. One story which stood out for me was “Beware of Wolves”. In this tale, Little Red Riding Hood discovers wolves come in more than one form. It’s a dark interpretation and days later won’t leave my mind.